Futura Pleasure

Paul Renner created the Futura font (@Linotype.com). His life is recalled in a book written by Christopher Burker:

German typographer Paul Renner is best known as the designer of the typeface Futura, which stands as a landmark of modern graphic design. This title is the first study in any language of Renner’s typographic career; it details his life and work to reveal the breadth of his accomplishment and influence.

Renner was a central figure in the German artistic movements of the 1920s and 1930s, becoming an early and prominent member of the Deutscher Werkbund while creating his first book designs for various Munich-based publishers. As the author of numerous texts such as Typografie als Kunst (Typography as Art) and Die Kunst der Typographie (The Art of Typography) he created a new set of guidelines for balanced book design. Renner taught with Jan Tschichold in the 1930s and was a key participant in the heated ideological and artistic debates of that time. Arrested and dismissed from his post by the Nazis, he eventually emerged as a voice of experience and reason in the postwar years. Throughout this tumultuous period he produced a body of work of the highest distinction

. »

Open your eyes, a short video presents Futura, courtesy of Vimeo (ie. YouTube with a much higher quality).

Fonts may be compelling and even passionnate stories, as one forum of Typophile shows. The New York Times has just given the facts, and few comments : in short, Ikea has just ditched Futura to Verdana. Mario Garcia Garcia blogs in his own witty way, whereas Idgn.org says its mind about the Big Switch (and shows the differences) and informs next that Verdana and Georgia will turn to print soon.

Worthy curated resources

Some illustrations from a wonderful book called Lettering for Advertising, published in 1956 by Mortimer Leach (courtesy of All About Lettering).

Know your type : Futura (Idgn.org).
Typowiki : Futura (Typophile).

Edit 2013-11-27

This post dating from 2009-09 is worth of a CSS-upgrade, right? Thus, the code is now tagged in proper way, still following up a steep learning curve.

Font Dependence

Font dependence, or typographical abuse, has been rebranded typoholism by iLT, who knows a great deal about what is his own Addict’s Tale. Well, there is no cure if you follow the famous typo-designer, Erik Spiekermann, confessing that (as quoted by John D. Boardley of iLT):

I can’t explain it; I just like looking at type. I just get a total kick out of it. Other people look at bottles of wine or whatever, or, you know, girls’ bottoms. I just get kicks out of looking at type. It’s a little worrying, I must admit.

All you have to try is make fun of it and watch on.

You know what? As we all need Typography, never restrain from thinking with Type (where you can find numerous useful links and much more stuff based on the eponymous book by Ellen Lupton).

You are really addicted that much?
– Read articles by Peter Biľak (from Typotheque).
– Roll on the blog of Erik Spiekermann.
– Enjoy the TypoWiki of Typophile.
– Watch Ellen Lupton‘s lecture at ESAD Personal Views (Escola Superior de Artes e Design in Matosinhos, Portugal). Oder Erik Spiekermann im Gespräch mit Walter Bohatsch (in german).
– Cry I Love Typography with John D. Bardley.

Edit 2013-11-27

This post dating from 2008-06 is worth of a CSS-upgrade, right? Thus, the code is now tagged in proper way, still following up a steep learning curve.

abc of all

En français, auf Deutsch mais que cela soit écrit en romain ou en italique mais aussi pourquoi pas en amharique il faudrait décliner toutes les formes de la pensée écrite hors idéogrammes. Bref, TypoGrapho parce que WeLoveTypography.

Much lauded iLT (i Love Typography) has released a long note on the alphabet (2010-08), introducing its variety back to its origin in Sumer.

We see it every day on signs, billboards, packaging, in books and magazines; in fact, you are looking at it now — the Latin or Roman alphabet, the world’s most prolific, most widespread abc. Typography is a relatively recent invention, but to unearth the origins of alphabets, we will need to travel much
farther back in time, to an era contemporaneous with the emergence of (agricultural) civilisation itself.

SUMER – Cuneiform. « The Sumerians began to experiment with writing at the close of the fourth millennium BC, in Mesopotamia between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates (roughly modern-day Iraq). Like most writing systems, Cuneiform, initially scratched — later impressed by a stylus — into soft clay, started out as a series of pictograms — pictures representing words. The word for bird, for example, existed at first as a simple pictorial representation of a bird. The figure below demonstrates this process of abstraction or rationalization. In time, the pictures of things came to represent, not only things but, sounds. It is clear that a written language with signs that represent sounds requires fewer characters than a language in which a sign stands for a thing or an idea. We use 26 letters (and the Romans used only 23 to create some of the most outstanding literature the world has ever known) while the Chinese, for example, have to learn thousands of characters to express themselves. Even early cuneiform comprised some 1,500 pictograms. A language in which a picture or grapheme represents a thing or an idea has its advantages: people may speak any language while the written form stays the same. So a Chinese from the Southern provinces can speak a totally different dialect than his compatriot in Beijing, who would not understand him when he speaks, but can read what he writes. »
EGYPT – The writing of the gods. « The Egyptians developed a similar system of pictograms, one many of us are familiar with. Hieroglyphic inscriptions (literally sacred carving), like Cuneiform started out as pictograms, but later those same pictures were also used to represent speech sounds. Looking at the different forms of Egyptian hieroglyphs we can better understand how those pictures of things representing words became more and more abstract. While you might be familiar with the form of Egyptian hieroglyphs carved into stone (lapidary inscriptions), they do, however, come in several forms or styles — all influenced by the medium upon which they are written, the purpose for which they are written, and their intended audience. »
THE FIRST ALPHABETS – In Wadi el-Hol. « Until the discovery of two inscriptions (graffiti) in Wadi el-Hol, Egypt, in 1999, it was generally held that the beginnings of alphabetic scripts could be traced to around 1600 to 1500 BC, to the Phoenicians, a people of traders who lived on the coast of today’s Lebanon and Israel. However, the 1999 discovery reveals that, rather than the early Semitic alphabet being developed in their homeland of Syria-Palestine, it was instead developed by the Semitic-speaking people then living in Egypt. This strengthens the hypothesis there must have been ties between Egyptian scripts and their influence on those early Semitic or proto-Sinaitic alphabets. Moreover, it pushes back the origin of the alphabet to between 1900 and 1800 BC. »
PROTO SINAITIC – « At the same time as the short-lived ugaritic script was being developed (an alphabet adapted from Cuneiform), another alphabetic system emerged that was influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs. This proto-Sinaitic alphabet of consonants was pictographic, yet each pictograph represents a sound rather than a thing or idea. It is this proto-Sinaitic alphabet that really marks the starting point, the root of numerous modern-day alphabets, from Arabic and Hebrew to Greek and Latin. »
THE PHOENICIANS – The Purple People. « This simple and ingenious modern alphabet of consonants from which the last vestiges of pictograms had been erased, is indeed a merchant’s instrument: easy to learn, to write and to adapt. And adapted it was by cultures that we are generally much more familiar with: the Greek and Roman societies that form the base of modern Western civilisation and the lesser-known Tuscans. »
GREEK – Enter the vowel. « Although the earliest extant Greek inscriptions date back to the 8th century BC — the first Olympic games were held in 776 BC — many scholars think that the Greeks adopted the West Semitic Script (the Phoenician consonant alphabet) three centuries earlier. (note: Naveh, Millard, McCarter, and Cross concur. See Naveh, pp. 185-6). For a long time (at least until the widespread adoption of Ionian script in the fourth century BC), the Greek scripts followed no fixed direction, being written left to right, right to left, and in horizontal boustrophedon. (Braille is set boustrophedonically.) »
LATIN – Musical chairs & the tale of Z. « The Latin alphabet that we still use today was created by the Etruscans and the Romans, and derived from the Greek. It had only 23 letters: the J, U and W were missing. The J was represented by the I, the U was written as V and there was no need for a W. The story of the Z is particularly interesting. In the third century BC, the letter G (a variant of C) was added; Z was borrowed from the Greek, then dropped as Latin had no need for it — perhaps at the behest of the Roman censor Appius Claudius; G took its place in the line-up, until the first century BC, when the Romans decided they needed the Z for borrowed Greek words (when Greek literature became the vogue), they re-introduced it, and placed it at the end of the alphabet, where it remains to this day. »
RUSTIC CAPITALS. « From the square Roman capitals (preserved on the plinth of Trajan’s Column (114 AD), developed the freer-form and slightly more condensed Rustic capitals. »
Uncial & Half Uncial – The ‘lowercase’ makes its entrance. « Most writing was of course done on papyrus and on walls, informal and quick. The cursive was the letter that Martialis read aloud to his friends when he recited his poems at night. This was a letterform that could be jotted down quickly with a reed pen dipped in ink. The ‘old’ cursive is difficult to read but the ‘new’, that evolved from the 4th century onwards resembles our own writing. It spawned the much later Carolingian minuscule letter — the Adam & Eve of printing types used today. The second great invention, the codex, came at the same time. While the Romans used scrolls made of papyrus, in the fourth century somebody had the idea to cut parchment into oblong pieces and sew them together — thus creating the first random-accessible book. Together with the eminently readable script this must be considered one of the greatest inventions of all time. »
Carolingian to Gothic – An Emperor and a Yorkshireman. « A beautiful, legible book hand; long ascenders and descenders, letting in light between the lines, open and round letters with few ligatures and variant letterforms. The early Carolingian scripts share some features with the Roman Half-Uncial (the club shape ‘head serifs’ on the ascenders of b, d, h, and l, by the 11th century these were replaced by triangular serifs, similar to those we see in numerous roman typefaces of the incunabula (latter half of the 15th century). The early, rounder a was dropped in favour of one similar to that found in early Roman Uncials. In manuscripts penned in this hand, it is not uncommon to see the r with a descender. »
Roman – Enter typography. « Printing and 15th century humanism are closely related, and since the humanist philosophers and philologists (literally ‘lovers of words’, meaning they loved classical Latin) reintroduced classical Latin as the lingua franca of their class, it is no wonder that the first roman alphabets of the earliest printers only used the 23 letters of the classical era. The J was added later. The first J in print was probably made in Italy, early in the 16th century; the written form was first used in the Middle Ages, in France and the Netherlands. The W is a letter not known to the Latins but used often in the vernacular languages of the west. Well into the 17th century it was set in type as VV, but you will also find two Vs that have been cut down and joined to form a W.« .
Putting the pieces together.

I have focused on writing systems that contributed to the later development of the Latin alphabet, but of course the story of the written word is broader and more profound. I have not mentioned writing systems that developed independently (e.g. Chinese and Japanese), and other scripts that do owe a debt to the proto-Sinaitic and Phoenician alphabets, like Hebrew and Arabic. The evolution of writing cannot be fully appreciated (comprehended, even) in isolation. Its stories are woven deep into the fabric of histories and civilisations, its paths steered by politics, religion, economics, and by innumerable other factors. So, the next time you set pen to paper, or tap keys on your keyboard, take a moment to reflect on the origins of these simple signs, signs that furnish us with incredible power — the power to describe all things.

& :
TypoGrapho (WebOL) | Twitter/@webol/Typo.

EDIT : First version in 2010-09.

Claude Garamont

Ce n’est pas un nom parmi d’autres typographes, non pas forcément le plus célèbre si tant que cela soit utile de faire ce genre de concours de beauté. Claude Garamont est l’un des fondateurs de la typographie, mis à l’honneur pour le 450ème anniversaire de sa mort en 1561.

Le site officiel de la commémoration nationale, en France, propose de nombreux éclairages sur le personnage, son apport et son contexte avec force citations, références et glossaire aussi. Il n’est qu’à regretter que les seuls témoins contemporains soient francophones tant il y aurait des échos polyglottes à cet hommage des gens de l’art, par ailleurs à écouter. Comme le dit Jean-François Porchez, Garamont nous fait passer de l’écriture à la typographie.

La date de 1510 donnée jusqu’ici pour l’apprentissage de Claude Garamont chez Antoine Augereau est plus probablement celle de sa naissance. Les premiers travaux dus au burin de Claude Garamont sont aujourd’hui datés des années 1530 : c’est notamment dans les années 1532-1533 qu’il s’inspira des caractères gravés par Francesco Griffo pour l’impression par Alde Manuce du De Aetna du cardinal Bembo en 1495. D’après les dernières recherches, Garamont ne semble plus avoir été l’élève de Geoffroy Tory, mais bien davantage celui d’Antoine Augereau.

D’après certaines sources qui restent à confirmer, Claude Garamont aurait travaillé chez Claude Chevallon puis chez sa veuve, Charlotte Guillard, après la mort de Claude Chevallon en 1537. Après des années comme apprenti et compagnon, il devient maître en 1538.

« Je retirais vraiment peu de profit de mon travail qui est de sculpter et de fondre les types de lettres (…) Ceux qui savent seulement tailler les lettres ne progressent guère (…) Ils construisent le nid des libraires, ils leur apportent leur miel. »

En 1543, Claude Garamont quitte son atelier de la rue Saint-Jacques pour la rue des Augustins, à proximité de son beau-frère, l’imprimeur Pierre Gaultier. De 1543 à 1550, il y grave trois corps et, après 1543, Jean de Gagny, premier aumônier de François Ier, l’encourage à graver de nouvelles lettres italiques selon le modèle donné par Alde Manuce à Venise. Fournisseur de Robert Estienne, il compte également parmi ses clients André Wechel, imprimeur libraire parisien, et Christophe Plantin qui passe commande en 1556, ainsi que d’autres libraires ou imprimeurs : Mathurin Du Puys en 1541 ; Etienne Mesvière en 1543 et Denis Du Vau avant 1556 à Paris.

À la fin de la décennie 1540, un cicero romain gravé de la main de Claude Garamont est utilisé par Conrad Neobar, premier imprimeur du roi pour le grec. Ayant déménagé à plusieurs reprises, il installe en 1550 son propre atelier de gravure et de fonte de caractères, pour la première fois séparé d’une imprimerie proprement dite, rue des Carmes à l’enseigne de la Boule, et produit pour Robert Ier Estienne, imprimeur du roi, de très beaux caractères de différents corps (Gros Canon 40-44 ; Saint-Augustin 12-13) qui seront utilisés pour la composition de livres religieux.

L’approche historique a toutes raisons de montrer qu’être typographe a pu signifier être éditeur et en l’occurrence librairie.

En 1545, Jean Barbé, libraire parisien, s’associe avec Claude Garamont qui, à l’instigation de Jean de Gagny, grand aumônier du Roi et chancelier de la Sorbonne, avait débuté dans l’édition en publiant en mars 1545 la Pia et religiosa meditatio de David Chambellan, ouvrage imprimé par Pierre Gaultier, son beau-frère.

« (Jean de Gagny) exhorta de toute sa bienveillance des hommes habiles pour que moi qui avais l’habitude de sculpter et de fondre les types de lettres, je pusse un peu recueillir les fruits de mon travail et m’approcher de l’art libraire» Claude Garamont, 1545.

Dans la préface en tête de cette édition, Claude Garamont affirme :
« talicarum itaque proxime ad Aldinas literarum typos sculpo, quam foeliciter alii iudicabunt, certe domini Danesii, Vatabli, aliorumque iudicio non ingratos : neque his contentus, animum adiunxi vt eiusdem proportionis ac formae minutulos typos (nostrae artis homines glossam vocant) effingerem » (f. 2 v°-3 r°). « C’est la raison de mes types de lettres se rapprochant des Aldines, d’autres les jugeront avec plaisir, et déjà le jugement des seigneurs Danès et Vatable ne leur fut pas défavorable. Non content de cela je me suis efforcé de graver d’autres types de même proportion et de même forme plus petits (en termes techniques nous les appelons glosse)».

Dans cette association à laquelle se joignent occasionnellement les libraires Thielman II Kerver et Jean de Roigny, Jean Barbé est sans doute le principal bailleur de fonds, alors que Claude Garamont semble surtout fournir les caractères typographiques et en particulier la « glossa» italique qu’il venait de graver. L’impression est régulièrement confiée à Pierre Gaultier qui par ailleurs exerçait aussi le métier de fondeur de caractères. Neuf éditions paraissent ainsi en 1545, dont six in-16, format le mieux adapté au petit romain italique de Claude Garamont (cf. Un Novum Testamentum imprimé par Pierre Gaultier pour Jean Barbé). Ils éditent en 1545 les deux premiers livres de l’Architecture de Sebastiano Serlio.

Bref, le voyage n’a pas de retour sauf sur nos pages et nos écrans. Alors cette anecdote personnelle, demandant à des étudiants de parler d’histoire ces derniers avaient choisi une police censément traditionnelle pour rendre compte sur leur powerpoint du XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles : ils furent surpris de découvrir que leurs livres de poche eurent été moins anachroniques que ces pseudo-fontes choisies, vaguement manuscrites.

Aujourd’hui ?

Caractère de texte par excellence, le Garamond est toujours largement employé dans l’édition en France. Il fait figure de monument, incarnant l’intemporalité des textes qu’il véhicule, dans le cadre de la Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, publiée par Gallimard. Depuis sa création, en 1931, par Jacques Schiffrin, cette collection est personnifiée par le Garamont Deberny & Peignot strictement composé en corps 9. On retrouve cette dimension symbolique dans la conception par Pierre Faucheux des quatre volumes de l’Histoire de l’édition française (Cercle de la librairie, 1989-1991), sous la direction de Roger Chartier et Henri-Jean Martin. Le Garamont de l’Imprimerie nationale, parmi les autres caractères exclusifs de l’établissement, est également magnifié dans des ouvrages exceptionnels, alliant les qualités d’impression de plus haut niveau de son Atelier du livre d’art, tant au plan typographique que de l’estampe.

Caractère de texte par excellence, le Garamond est toujours largement employé dans l’édition en France. De nombreux éditeurs puisent dans la vaste palette des interprétations du caractère pour offrir une identité singulière à leurs publications.

De nombreux éditeurs puisent dans la vaste palette des interprétations du caractère pour offrir une identité singulière à leurs publications. C’est le cas des éditions Actes Sud qui privilégient le Garamond ( ITC Garamond et Agaramond) « pour sa noblesse et la générosité de son dessin qui offre une lecture agréable et fluide» comme l’indiquent leurs responsables. Les éditions Allia en font un usage exclusif « pour sa beauté, pour sa richesse et pour sa lisibilité», dans une ligne graphique très tenue, destinée à souligner la rigueur d’essais et d’analyses souvent porteurs d’une critique radicale de la société moderne. Enfin, on dénichera, chez de petits éditeurs, comme Monsieur Toussaint-Louverture, à Toulouse, des pépites littéraires, romans et nouvelles, à la typographie ciselée dans le Garamond de Robert Slimbach.

Et ce zoom sur les recherches contemporaines

& :
Typo ? (webOL).
– Twitter/webol/typo-matters.

Codex We Love

John Boardley, from iLoveTypography, is the mastermind behind the soon-to-be-released quaterly called Codex Mag. It is set to be a delight :

a journal of ink and paper and texture and type, that embodied the full richness of the subject, whose audience would be people who center their work or their attention on the deeper aspects of typography—or who’d like to. We made an interesting discovery along the way: whether you are a type designer, a professional typographer, an experienced print graphic designer, a serious web designer who wants to craft your sites with more knowledge and care, or even simply someone who appreciates exceptional typography, Codex will be just right for you: beautiful, surprising, academic, yet fresh and lively. (…) Perhaps we’re addicted to the smell of the press, the ink as it richly saturates the miniscule furrows of paper, and oh, the paper and the feel of it in our hands. We don’t know what the future holds, but for now, it holds only print.

& :
Typo ? | iLoveTypography ? | TypOL |  Twitter/@webol/typo (webOL).

« How to choose a typeface »

The topic is not scarce by typOL, but Smashing Magazine released a long post well carved about type choice, so far as to quote clever links to it.

Goal ? Legibility | Readibility.
Appropriateness ? Design Intent | Aesthetics | Mood | Personal choice | A few technical considerations.
Tips ? Plan your hierarchy | Consider what others have done already | Experiment the easy way | Avoid anachronisms | Avoid trite correlations | Consider an extended type family | Stick with the classic combinations | Use a limited palette …then, Break the rules.

The non-typographer’s guide to practical typeface selection by Cameron Moll
On Choosing Type: First Principles by John Boardley / I Love Typography
Choosing & Using Type by Daniel Will-Harris (old but excellent article).
Technical Web Typography: Guidelines and Techniques by Harry Roberts
“What Font Should I Use?”: Five Principles for Choosing and Using Typefaces by Dan Mayer
Best Practices of Combining Typefaces by Douglas Bonneville

& :
Typo ? (@webOL).
– Twitter/@webol/typo.

Web = 95% Typo

The stance is claimed by iA (Information Architects), and this is all the more accurate. Smashing Magazine elaborates on it to provide some guidelines and tips for Technical Web Typography.

More precisely :

& :
Webbed fonts | @font-face (@typOL).

Matthew Carter

The long interview published in Printmag is about typography from the very first letter to the final point. Indeed.

(…) Carter is unique in having designed type in every medium that has existed since the era of Gutenberg: metal, wood, film, and digital. His career has also spanned a surprising revolution in the profession of type design. When he was learning punchcutting there were few professional type designers.

Most of the famous type designers of the first half of the 20th century were first and foremost either letterers or book designers. There were only a handful of individuals who made their living exclusively from designing type and, with the notable exception of Frederic W. Goudy, they all worked for type foundries. Even in the era of phototype this situation remained largely unchanged. But with the advent of digital type and non-proprietary type design software it became possible for individuals without the backing of a large company to succeed as full-time type designers. Although the number of such individuals is still quite small, the number of those who have designed at least one font is enormous. Type design has become a democratic art.

Carter has not only survived these tumultuous changes but he has managed to remain at the forefront of the profession, both prolific in his output and continually surprising in his inspirations. He has always managed to find lettering styles from the past that are out of favor or overlooked yet not eccentric or extreme. Thus, he has resurrected the work of Charles Snell, Robert Granjon, Andrea Mantegna, Richard Austin, and Vincent Figgins. Carter is both a man of the present, at home with the latest type technology, and a man of the past, fully aware of the long and fascinating history of the Roman alphabet.

More ? Just read and look at it.

& :
Typo ? (@typographOL).
– twitter/@webol/typo.